Hot off the major success of 2009’s “The Hangover,” director Todd Phillips is hoping to recapture some of that lightning back in the bottle by re-teaming with Zach Galifianakis and adding in a little Robert Downey Jr. to make an odd-ball traveling duo in Warner Bros. Pictures “Due Date.” Can Phillips strike cinematic gold twice in a row or will “Due Date” just be filler on his directing card until “The Hangover 2” comes out next summer?
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an uptight architect who’s in Atlanta on a work trip but is heading home to be with his pregnant wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) as she is scheduled to have her c-section at the end of the week. Ethan Tremblay is a budding thespian headed to Los Angeles on the same flight as Peter and with an accidental run in as they arrive at the airport; things aren’t off to a good start between the two. Then, an argument on the plane gets them both kicked off the plane and added to the no fly list. When the plane leaves with all of Peter’s belongings, including his wallet, he is stranded. So when Ethan offers to carpool with him to Los Angeles he really doesn’t have much of a choice.
Now, in a race against the clock, the pair run into dangers and situations that would only be found in a comedy, from a pot dealing mother, to a scuffle at a check-cashing store, a Mexico imprisonment and so many more out-of-the-ordinary gimmicks that make you laugh. But can they keep you interested and entertained for the 95-minute running time?
Starting the movie off showing Ethan’s destructive cluelessness and Peter’s lack of patience gives us a little taste of the characters and the downward spiral they are going to take throughout the movie. From the get-go, Ethan’s over-the-top antics and Peter’s temper make a volatile mix, but it’s also these conflicting personalities that drive most of the laughs in the movie as well. Zach Galifianakis seems to play very similar roles in his past few movies, but this effeminate, bulldog toting, wannabe actor is still pretty out there. There are a few instances in which I would have beat him senseless or thrown him out of the car if I was there. You think: Why in the world would anyone stay in close proximity to this idiot? But surprisingly, it is his character Ethan who has the most emotional depth in this movie, seen in a very unlikely manner; a serious more sincere character is shown when talking about his love for his deceased father and his desires to not be alone.
Robert Downey Jr., on the other hand, has the sterner and darker comedy in this movie. He gets back to the foul-mouthed and mean-spirited comedy we have loved him doing so much in past films. Not really showing that much growth through the film, he does seem to loosen up towards the end. It’s the mixture of their two totally different and distinct comedy types that make this movie fun and funny to watch. I love Robert in most of the work he has done and I’m glad he has come back to regain his stardom in the past couple of years, so I might be biased in addressing his acting in the film. But the dry, dark humor that reminds me so much of Hugh Grant in many of his films always makes me chuckle. I think that together they make a great comedic duo and although this film’s storyline and plot have some major holes in its believability and plausibility, overall it did its job, it made me and everyone else laugh.
A great addition to this funny duo is the supporting cast. “Due Date” also stars: Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride and Matt Walsh.
There’s not a lot to say about the movie without giving away spoilers or the punch lines so I will wrap up with this: With such a hilarious trailer, “Due Date” definitely had a lot to live up to and I think it did a good job. Being a bit grittier and darker than the trailer made it look, the film will be a pleasant surprise for some while not being the cup of tea others were expecting. So it’s up to you — if you like darker, R-rated comedy movies, then “Due Date” is for you. If you are the more easily offended comedy lover, you might want to sit this one out.
“Due Date” — rated R for language, drug use and sexual content — is in theaters starting Nov. 5.
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